Did You Hear, The Charlie Brown Guy Killed Himself?

Nance
11 min readFeb 19, 2022

Why I Hate Dunning-Kruger Andys.

My partner and I text each other random articles from time to time. It’s usually something from the news that’s somehow pertinent to our lives, like the local water park that I grew up always wanting to visit but only got to go once when my rich aunt took us shutting down and auctioning off all its shit because they couldn’t outlast the pandemic, or one of the state universities lowering its acceptance standards rather than its tuition and trying to put a positive spin on it through a fluff piece from the local NBC affiliate. Sometimes it’s just popular news headlines, like when the Charlie Brown guy killed himself, or something to do with the Olympics or just some random article that’s blowing up on the socials. There must be an article going around right now about the Dunning-Kruger effect, because this morning my partner texted asking if I’ve read about it. Now, I know I’m a fucking nerd, I understand that most people don’t have the time, or desire, to read shit that doesn’t have anything to do with their daily life, but I was a bit surprised to learn that she’s only now hearing about the phenomenon, she’s very intelligent and well educated, and I often forget that she’s not a fucking nerd.

I don’t remember when I first read about the Donkey-Kong effect, but I do remember the way it made me feel. It made me feel great about myself! It made me feel vindicated, as if I am in fact, and always have been, the World’s Smartest Mother Fucker. It made me feel relieved, reassured that I am not crazy for thinking all my bosses were complete fucking morons who thought they were God’s gift to humankind. For anyone who is not a fucking nerd reading this right now, the Dunning-Kruger effect is simply the observation that people tend to grossly overestimate their knowledge and expertise when they are novices in a given field, and as they grow in their proficiency they’ll become more and more accurate in their perception of their own abilities, until they reach the top of the field where you’ll often find that the most knowledgeable people underestimate themselves, put simply there’s an indirect correlation between expertise and overconfidence, and it’s pretty ubiquitous. It makes total sense, and it’s almost universally accepted. I don’t know if anyone could observe modern society and come to any other conclusion, and I don’t think anybody would argue or contest it in any way. And that’s exactly what I’m here to do bitches, because deconstruction is a way of life, baybee!!

There have been many, many times in my life when I’ve allowed my own warped perspective to embolden me and give me license to make mistakes. Some of the mistakes I’ve made have been horrendous, some of them still keep me awake at night years, even decades, later; and the one thing they all have in common is the fact that I had an internal justification for each and every one of them. We all do this. We all do shitty things sometimes, and we all find ways to sleep at night and give ourselves permission to keep on keepin’ on. The Diane Keaton effect is relevant here because most of the time we are pressured into making these poor choices by external conditions, and though we can explain it all away by pointing to the fact that we’re all overconfident morons, there is actually quite a lot to gain from examining things in more detail. Now, I’m not saying that your idiot boss who makes you do things in a particular way, even though it’s the wrong way, gets a free pass here; or that your conspiracist uncle who believes he’s figured out cold fusion and mind-control and that the CIA and Department of Energy are sending assassins after him should be believed — DKNY is absolutely a real thing, and it can absolutely help us navigate certain social situations by giving us some insight into why people may be acting in a particular fashion. What I am saying is that, just as dumb people will comfort themselves by creating a narrative in which they’re actually smart; smart people will comfort themselves by creating a narrative that there is some fundamental difference between themselves and the Dumbs, and we’ve got to be careful not to become to taken with the idea that people are just stupid.

I fucking hate dumb people. I hate people who do dumb shit. I hate the fact that I feel dumb as shit sometimes. I also fucking hate people who think they’re smart. Now honestly, dear reader, I struggle to keep my intellectual ego in check sometimes. Being smart matters to me, it’s a very large part of my self image, it’s the only thing I’ve ever had that really belongs to me and I’ve become exceedingly jealous of it. All that being said, I believe the idea of intelligence is a particularly harmful human construct; it does more to segregate, oppress and deprive people of simple things than it does to elevate or reward anyone. The ideology that keeps us all fighting each other in back alleys rather than the ugly zombie vampire aliens that rule the world rests largely on the myth of meritocracy. The myth of meritocracy rests almost entirely on the myth of intelligence. I don’t actually hate dumb people, I hate people who do things that make my life more difficult; there’s more to it than that, of course, but that really covers a lot of ground in the dumb-people-hating space. I do, however, really hate people who think there is some actual, essential difference that distinguishes them from and designates them as better, more valuable, and more worthy and deserving of success than the Dumbs.

Now, I know my language may be starting to sound a bit scary, a bit like a slippery slope that’ll lead us down into that great but also disconcertingly fascist, or at least Malthusian, hit Terry Crews film Idiocracy. Yeah, it totally does sound a bit scary. I get it, I just told you that I’m hyper-insecure about my own intellect, it’s been both a source of comfort for me in our mad world and constant torment, vacillating between ‘I’m the smartest mother fucker who’s ever lived!’ and ‘I’m a worthless idiot!’ like it’s my cosmic penance for hubris, and I love science and history and mathematics and all the other smart people things; I entirely understand and empathize with the urge to protect, and even fetishize, the institutions of Intelligence and the good things it brings to society. I’ve had lots of arguments with fellow anarchists, or people who call themselves anarchists anyway, about the future; our future, in which all hierarchies have been toppled and we’re living in a true utopia where the existing power structures of the academy and and the canon of philosophy have been subverted and people will be allowed to learn and explore and uncover knowledge without the constraints of historical, economic, or social control. In this new scientific world we’ll have to develop new methods of discriminating between truth and untruth, we’ll need new ways to teach and share knowledge, we’ll need to radically reconsider what these things even are at a fundamental level. There are a lot of people who don’t think this will ever be doable, that this in fact will be the thing that prevents future super communism from working. I disagree with those people, I believe humans are far more intelligent and capable than we give ourselves credit for, while also being far dumber than we’re willing to admit, and I believe the future will only be possible when we cast off the small mindedness and ideology of the day. What does any of that look like? I don’t fuckin know, that’s for our descendants to figure out, our job is to get us there in the first place. I know that’s a cop out, but I got shit to do, I can’t be spending all day thinking about such fantastical things. I just realized I usually spend all day thinking about such fantastical shit…

So anyway. Joe Rogan Is a shining example of Diamler-Krysler, the whole internet is, really, but if you’re looking for singular examples, in few places is the concept as crystal clear as The Bro Brogan exhausting Experience. Roe Jogan loves to say “I’m just a comedian, don’t take this seriously” before he has an hours-long conversation with someone he advertises as an expert who then spouts off absurd and demonstrably false bullshit and offers little-to-no push back. The transphobia and misogyny and white supremacy have always been part of the show, but only now does polite liberal society seem to care, when he’s pushing COVID misinformation, and that is what that is, I don’t give a shit, he’s a fucking comedian. The thing is, he’s not just a fucking comedian. Millions, tens-of-millions of people, hundreds-of-millions even, take him seriously; they hang on his every word, they believe he is an Alpha/Sigma warrior-poet who’s been gifted with divine insight, they are dedicated to this fucking chimp, and he happily misleads them into very dangerous territory. And now he’s paved the way for hundreds of other lower-tier right wing content creators who say blatantly fascist shit and play it off with “I’m just a comedian!” or “it’s just a joke!” Fuck Joe Rogan, fuck everything about him, I don’t give a shit what he says or what he believes; I do give a shit, however, about the tangible effects of what he says on the audience of the world’s most popular internet radio show. Moe Blowgun is pure Dunning-Kruger, both he and his guests talk about things as if they are experts, and they get it wrong most of the time. They’ll throw in the ‘just a funny-man making jokes’ caveat, but there is no functional method of correcting, or even questioning them, and everyone involved gets this inflated sense of intellectual superiority because it’s all been branded as the Intellectual Dark Web. Slow Toegum is either too stupid to understand that he is in fact responsible for the messages he pushes out on his platform, or too self centered to give a shit; either way, once again, that pesky Donkey Kong effect bares its ugly little head.

I should mention Eric Weinstein here because he provides another clear example of Dancehall-Krashers, a personal one in fact. He’s a disgraced mathematician who works for Peter Thiel, the other South African billionaire with designs on global domination; and while Elon is definitely into some problematic shit, ol’ Petey is an outright fascist. So, Eric manages a dark money hedge fund at the behest of a fascist billionaire and makes reactionary YouTube content. He makes videos about math and shit too, but his conservative crybaby shit is what catapulted him into the public eye. Eric talks about his groundbreaking new grand unified theory a lot, he claims it will save the world by unlocking the final quantum mysteries of the cosmos and goes on and on and on in mesmerizing para-scientific language that’s extremely compelling — if you’re into that — and nearly impossible to comprehend. That’s why he’s so popular, the shit he says sounds so ridiculously impressive, and plausible enough to the uneducated science enjoyers like myself, to allow him to grow a sizable following. Now, upon further inspection it’s clear he’s full of shit, but I didn’t come to that conclusion on my own. I respected and believed Eric Weinstein until a few years ago when I heard him talking about how Black Lives Matter wanted to cancel science and math. I knew that was complete bullshit, and that’s what lead me to critically examine all of the other things he said and seek out the opinions of experts in the fields which he claims to have beaten the final bosses of, and that’s when I realized that my introductory knowledge of math and science had filled me with a perfectly Donna-Krunk false confidence and made me believe Eric Weinstein was on to something, and that I was one of the very few who understood it. But the majority of his audience doesn’t know that BLM and ANTIFA canceling the entire western world is just reactionary propaganda, and he continues to grow and push his bullshittery and some very harmful disinformation.

So, why am I complaining about the Dunning-Kruger effect anyway? Because I’m a salty bitch! I’d be sharing the damn article if I wrote it, instead of shitting on it. I’m just angry that nobody shares my shit! Seriously though, it bothers me that vacuous articles like this get popular and make the rounds on the socials, but it’s almost impossible to get anybody to read any social or political commentary that comes from the Left. The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a real thing. People are dumb, and dumb people do dumb shit and think they’re actually fucking brilliant. The reason people do this, however, is not because people just do that, as the polite, bourgeois academic literature would have you believe, but rather because people are pressured into behaving as if they’re something that they actually aren’t. The social, psychological, and economic causes of human issues are all too often disregarded in favor of neat little aphorisms wrapped up with little bows that support the ideology of the State. The idea of people being too dumb to think for themselves supports the fallacy of meritocracy and gives us all a nice little self-esteem bump, it gives us a reason to feel important and justified and valuable, it can be cathartic and even therapeutic to receive external validation, and it simply just feels nice to feel smart and self-righteous and share ‘intellectual’ articles with your polite liberal friends while you all wear your matching The Future Is Female t-shirts and drink certified fair trade organic farm-to-table soy mocha lattes; but it would feel a whole lot better if we didn’t live in a society that pressures us into creating strange, deceptive alter egos that suppress and supplant the actual selves we hide even from ourselves that we grow to resent and feel ashamed of. And hey, the thing driving all this fucked up Lacanian chicanery and fuckery is Capital, the fact that in order to see to our basic needs we have to achieve some level of wealth, and in order to achieve any level of wealth, outside of luck, you have to have something like knowledge or expertise which you can trade on the market, and if we got rid of that we’d functionally get rid of a whole lot of really unpleasant shit. But, what do I know, I’m just a dumb, smelly communist.

I half-assedly wrote this today because I’m working on a few more serious things that are taking a lot of time and thought, and this just started falling out of my brain, and I felt like sharing. After writing this I realize that I have stronger feelings on this than I was aware of, and that the topic actually fits quite neatly into the larger project I seem to have become obsessed with, so I’m sure it’ll pop up again in more detail in the future. If you like the things I have to say, you can support me and my project by engaging in conversation, this will both satiate the divine algorithm and help me move my thinking along — it becomes very easy to stagnate when I’m talking into a wall of silence. You can, and should, also follow me and engage with my writing on Medium. I’ve decided to try and take that platform seriously and I need followers and clicks! If you hate the things I say, you should still reach out to me and tell me why, you might be able to change my opinions and influence my point of view, or at the very least you’ll be able to tell me how stupid I am.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for spending time and attention here with me! I sincerely hope you’ve found something here of value, and I hope you come back soon!

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